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on automatic pilot

also on automatic
doing something without thinking about how or why you do it All the actors in this play seemed to be operating on automatic pilot, and none of them was very good.
Usage notes: also used in the form on autopilot with the same meaning: I was so tired, I was simply running on autopilot.
Related vocabulary: running on empty
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of automatic pilot (a system that flies a plane without human effort)
See also: automatic, on, pilot

on automatic pilot

  (informal) also on autopilot (informal)
if you are on automatic pilot, or do something on automatic pilot, you do something without thinking about what you are doing, usually because you have done it many times before By the second week of the election campaign she was making all her speeches on automatic pilot.
See also: automatic, on, pilot

on automatic

Functioning by or as if by automatic machine or device.
See also: automatic, on
References in classic literature ?
This first time his teeth closed automatically upon it.
He glanced at the hand that held the brand, noticing the cunning delicacy of the fingers that gripped it, how they adjusted themselves to all the inequalities of the surface, curling over and under and about the rough wood, and one little finger, too close to the burning portion of the brand, sensitively and automatically writhing back from the hurtful heat to a cooler gripping-place; and in the same instant he seemed to see a vision of those same sensitive and delicate fingers being crushed and torn by the white teeth of the she-wolf.
So tensely was he strung, that a bunch of quail, exploding into flight from under his horse's nose, startled him to such an extent that automatically, instantly, he had reined in and fetched the carbine halfway to his shoulder.
When she was a possible tenant it had suppressed itself, not consciously, but automatically.
There are five, of which the door of the vestibule is the only entrance to the pavilion,--a door always automatically closed, which cannot be opened, either from the outer or inside, except with the two special keys which are never out of the possession of either Daddy Jacques or Monsieur Stangerson.
We expected the beach to lift up this way and that, and the rocky walls to swing back and forth like the sides of a ship; and when we braced ourselves, automatically, for these various expected movements, their non-occurrence quite overcame our equilibrium.
Once more Gerald and his sister relapsed almost automatically into an indifferent and cultivated silence.
Tulliver began to lay back the tablecloths in the chest, folding and stroking them automatically.
This tool automatically creates requirements specification documents in templated Microsoft Word format, along with UML activity diagrams.
Smart Traffic Update to automatically monitor traffic conditions and be alerted every 5mn to 20mn along with suggestion for alternative routes;
9860, unless the taxpayer is permitted to change automatically to the special method under another section of Rev.
Moisture content measured quickly, automatically down to 0.
a software provider that automatically generates business intelligence (BI) content from enterprise applications, today announced its inclusion for the fourth consecutive year in KMWorld's 100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management.
Automatically download real-time Internet information to your spreadsheet.
It automatically receives and stores data from sensors on a processing machine or auxiliary equipment, and from serial devices such as bar-code readers, electronic calipers, and weigh scales.
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